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Third Reich 1933-1945

The Third Reich, is the common name for Germany, under the leadership of Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Party, from 1933 to 1945. Dritte Reich, German for "Third Empire", relates the Nazi state as the successor to the medieval Holy Roman Empire (962-1806) and the modern German Empire (1871-1918).  The often used term "Thousand Year Reich" refers to the sum of the years of all three empires indicated above.

Map of Germany in 1943

Adolph Hitler was appointed the Chancellor (prime minister) of Germany on January 30, 1933, by President Paul von Hindenburg. Hindenburg died in August of 1934, and afterward, Hitler secured the support of the army, abolished the office of the Presidency, and proclaimed himself Führer (Supreme Leader) of the German people. At this point, Adolph Hitler was the absolute ruler of the "Deutsches Reich", interpreted as the "State of Germany".

Philatelically, the first postage stamps officially issued under the Third Reich were the surtaxed (charity or semi-postal) commemorative stamps showing scenes from Wagner's Operas, issued on November 1, 1933.  They are all shown above.

Beginning with the Richard Wagner issue, paper with a swastika watermark was used. The swastika watermark was continued for all stamp issues, through April 1945. The watermark is shown in the scan above.  Certain stamps of this period also show the swastika watermark sideways and / or inverted.

Beginning in 1933, the paper used to print the existing Hindenburg definitive postage stamps was also changed to having a swastika watermark.  These 1933 Hindenburg definitive stamp issues are considered as being issued under the new Reich, whereas the previous network watermarked Hindenburg issues are considered as being issued under the Weimar Republic.

The surtaxed commemorative stamps the Scott Catalog refers to as charity or semi-postal stamps are included in the Commemorative Issues link pages at the right.  They are commemorative stamps in every respect, but they were sold at a premium over the usual postage rate denominations.  The historical, definitive, commemorative, airmail, and back-of-the-book category links at the right have been separated into groups to make them easier to follow.

A set of three airmail stamps was issued during September 1933 for the flight of the Graf Zeppelin to the Chicago World's Fair. All of the Graf Zeppelin issues generally belong within the Weimar Republic category, however this particular set will be included in this section, as well as in the Weimar Republic category of this website.

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Germany - Third Reich

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